U.S. Civil War

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass was an orator, writer, statesman and social reformer. His early life shaped the truly remarkable advocate he became, and the two primary causes he campaigned for — the abolition of slavery and women's suffrage.

Walt Whitman, Poet of Democracy

Whitman is often touted as the best and most important poet in U.S. history, but he also worked as a teacher and a journalist. And his poetry career didn't start out particularly well.

John Brown's Raid on Harper's Ferry

John Brown's raid on Harper's Ferry, Virginia, set out to create an armed revolution of emancipated slaves. Instead, it became a tipping point leading to the U.S. Civil War.

Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation with John B. King

Secretary of Education Dr. John B. King Jr. discusses the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which gave rebelling states 100 days to return to the Union or have their enslaved population freed during the U.S. Civil War.

U.S. Contraband Camps

When three escaped slaves showed up at a Union position during the U.S. Civil War, the decision of how to handle the situation fell to Maj. Gen. Benjamin Butler. His actions led to a situation for which the government was simply not prepared.

Harriet Tubman, Union Spy (Part 2)

There was a whole lot more to Harriet Tubman's life and work than her time as a conductor on the Underground Railroad. During the United States Civil War, she worked as a Union spy, eventually earning the nickname "General."

Harriet Tubman & the Underground Railroad (Part 1)

Most people are familiar with her involvement with the Underground Railroad, but Harriet Tubman was also a spy for the Union during the Civil War, among many other things. Untangling the truth from the myth is the trickiest part of her story.

Robert Smalls: From Contraband to Congress

After his daring and impressive escape from slavery, Smalls was considered to be contraband, which was a term used for formerly enslaved people who joined the Union. But this was the beginning of an impressive career as a free man.

The Incredible Escape of Robert Smalls

Robert Smalls was born into slavery in Beaufort, South Carolina in 1839. He escaped from enslavement during the U.S. Civil War, in a particularly dramatic fashion.

Louisa May Alcott

Once you examine Louisa May Alcott's life story, the inspirations for her writing become clear. But while she had some things in common with her most famous heroine, a lot sets her apart from Jo March. Read the show notes here.